Enrollment Counselor to Finally Meet African Teen She Has Sponsored
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
Jen Tagler has been blessed with Patience.
The GCU enrollment counselor, who works at the University’s Peoria site, has waited 10 years to meet the Ugandan girl she began sponsoring through the humanitarian organization Compassion International.
Now, after arranging for time off and raising more than $5,000 for a mission trip with her church, she’s only two weeks away. She leaves Saturday on a 17-day trip that will take her to the African countries of Malawi, South Africa and finally Uganda.
At last, she will see Patience Nambozo, now 14, who wrote to Tagler in January that she was praying the two could meet face to face.
“It feels monumental,” says Tagler, 37, who has been with GCU for less than a year. “When I first selected her, I thought it would be so amazing if I got to meet her one day.
“This will be a reminder to her that she’s not forgotten. She has a purpose and a destiny, and she’ll know God cares enough to send me to tell her that.”
Tagler’s monthly financial support has helped with the girl’s education and her participation in community programs in Uganda. And with some of the birthday money sent by Tagler, Patience’s family — she lives with her grandparents — has been able to buy goats for milk and cheese.
Letters arrive from Patience “four or five times a year,” Tagler says, and the girl will be eligible through a Compassion-related program to apply for a college scholarship if she maintains her good grades.
“This investment is so tangible,” says Tagler, who has become more closely involved with the organization in recent years. “It’s not a handout or a gift. It’s truly an investment in a child, a family and a community.”
With two sisters who serve as missionaries to the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, Tagler comes by her outreach orientation naturally. She will take along her 17-year-old nephew, Josh Tagler, for the first two legs of the African trip, which she is making with a team of a dozen people from City of Grace Church in metro Phoenix.
The group will spend seven days in a community in Malawi and five days at a school for disabled children in Cape Town, South Africa. Then Tagler will go on to Uganda by herself for three days.
“In January, I got the letter from Patience, and that very week someone at church asked me if I ever thought of going to Africa,” she says. “I said, ‘Every day.’ I pressed ahead faithfully on this, and all of my funding came in.”
She says she understands how a long-term commitment to an impoverished child might seem overwhelming initially. The children — and the needs — are many.
“A way to narrow it down,” Tagler suggests, “is to see if there might be a way to travel to meet your child (later on). Another way would be to choose one of about the same age as your own child. If all else fails, then you could select a girl in a country like India where there is little opportunity for her.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.